Though it's often claimed that Kauai is the Islands' hellhole of agricultural pesticide use, state disclosure reports tell a very different picture.
A total of 906,891 pounds of restricted use pesticides were sold statewide in 2014. Hawaii County reported total RUP sales of 138,632 pounds, Maui County 334,097 pounds and Oahu 418,213 pounds, while Kauai reported just 15,949 pounds.
The total does not include RUPs applied for structural pest control or termite treatment, because for some odd reason, the anti-GMO and anti-ag groups have not called for those companies to disclose their pesticide use.
The statewide sales report is in addition to the much more specific monthly RUP use reports that are voluntarily disclosed under the Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program.
Chlorine, which is used to treat drinking water and wastewater, accounted for 459,936 pounds of the statewide total, or slightly more than half. Some 8,508 pounds of chlorine were purchased on Kauai.
Statewide sales of chlorpyrifos were reported at 7,279 pounds, with Kauai accounting for 1,300 pounds of that total. As for atrazine, some 55,103 pounds were purchased statewide last year, with Kauai accounting for 1,138 pounds of that total. And Kauai accounted for just 856 pounds of the 15,706 pounds of paraquat sold statewide.
In short, far fewer agricultural RUPs are being bought, and ostensibly applied, on Kauai than any other island. Yet it is here that folks are raising the loudest — and still undocumented — claims of birth defects, asthma and cancer.
If ag pesticides actually are harming human health, wouldn't it make sense that the other islands, which have much greater use, would be suffering proportionately more health problems than Kauai? They also have people living in close proximity to agriculture.
Or is it just that Kauai has been the squeakiest wheel, in keeping with Vandana Shiva's exhortations that the fight to rid the Islands of the seed companies must start here?
The statewide sales reports are required under Act 105, a bill introduced by Kauai Rep. Dee Morikawai that passed the Legislature in 2013.
The law also required the state Legislative Reference Bureau to conduct a study of how other states handle reporting requirements. Its findings:
After reviewing the laws and regulations of other states, it appears that the majority of states do not impose ANY reporting requirements on pesticides that do not fall within the definition of a restricted use pesticide. Among the seven states that address general use pesticides to any extent, there is some variation as to whether the reporting requirements imposed by a particular state apply to the sale, use, or both the sale and use of general use pesticides. Further, there appears to be a great deal of variation between the extent to which these reporting requirements are applied and enforced from one state to another.
It should be noted that, in addition to the fact that each of these states employs a different approach with regard to reporting requirements, the Bureau could not find any sort of comprehensive evaluation on the effectiveness of any of the various reporting programs. Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether and to what extent any of them have been successful in achieving the objectives for which each program was established.
The Bureau was unable to secure detailed information regarding the costs incurred by these states in establishing and maintaining their various reporting programs.The Bureau offers no conclusions regarding the budgetary requirements of such programs, other than to note that, as discussed previously, both Oregon and New York appear to have encountered difficulties resulting from the cost of maintaining their reporting programs.
Oregon has subsequently abandoned the implementation of its reporting program, due to high costs.